Don't hide your lights under the bushel

Teachers should stop being coy at sharing best practice, Ted Wragg of Exeter University has warned.

Professor Wragg said that teachers should emulate doctors and scientists when it came to sharing discoveries with their peers, instead of taking the attitude that telling other teachers about their research or successful ways of working amounted to "showing off".

He described how he had seen "the finest primary science teacher" who happened to be working in a four-teacher school in south-west England.

"The children were eating out of his hands. I told him: 'You ought to get those ideas around - you should write about them or talk at teachers'

conferences.' But he said: 'I can't do that. I don't want my colleagues to think I am showing off.'

"I told him that it was a damn good thing that Christian Barnard didn't think the same thing. Doctors have a duty to invite people to sit in on their team and explain their work to them. We should have the same approach about imaginative ideas in schools."

Professor Wragg acknowledged that being creative or innovative in schools required courage - "somehow innovation, unless it has been approved, is a bit naughty".

He added: "There is a feeling that you have to wait for permission to innovate and create. I hope the climate is changing here (in Scotland) - that maybe external prescription is not the way.

"People keep saying that schools should be free but then impose some extra prescription. I hope that the 21st century climate will change."

"The greatest gift you can give anyone is to send them away from school still wanting to learn."

He described the situation in England where test results for 11-year-olds showed that in some schools children were taught certain phrases which they then dragged into almost every area. "That is squashing pupils'

imagination," he said.

An evaluation of why Hong Kong accountancy students scored badly in the most difficult international accountancy exams showed that it was because they found it difficult to think creatively.

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